A.D. 70 MOVIE AND OPEN LETTER TO:
MR. RIDLEY SCOTT AND WILLIAM MONAHAN
BY: MICHAEL J. SULLIVAN
Dear Mr. Scott and Mr. Monahan, ,
After watching your movie The Kingdom of Heaven in 2005 it became clear to me at that time that you had a better grasp of where and what the land and city of “Jerusalem” is than about 95% of Evangelicals do. Post A.D. 70 it resides in the heart and mind and is a new-covenant “kingdom of conscience.” I think you two have a passion to see peace in the Middle East between the Muslim world, Christians and Israel when it comes to understanding what and where Jerusalem is. As a truly conservative Christian and Preterist theologian, I share that same passion. I would enjoy working on a movie with you that I believe will greatly aid in this endeavor. Let me share with you my thoughts for a movie and why it will be a theological and financial success while at the same time bring peace and healing to these regions of the world.
Jesus identifies His second coming and reception of His kingdom “within” the heart and conscience of His people (along with the arrival of the heavenly Jerusalem to earth) within a “soon” “at hand” “near” and “shortly” time period–when the Roman armies surround Jerusalem (ie. by A.D. 70) Matthew 10:22-23; Matthew 16:27-28; Luke 17:20-21ff./Luke 21:20-32; Revelation 1:1 – 22:6-7, 10-12, 20. Jesus and the NT authors make it abundantly clear that the Church is the Temple/New Jerusalem/New Creation predicted by the prophets (cf. Isaiah 65-66/2Corinthians 5:17; Ezekiel 37:27/2Corinthians 5-6:16. The core and fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant has nothing to do with the literal land of Jerusalem but rather a “heavenly country” that was “about to be” received in A.D. 70 with Christ’s return judging the old-covenant Jerusalem (cf. Hebrews 10:25, 37; 11:14-16; 13:14YLT – “for we are looking for a city that is about to come”).
The Financial Success of the Movie
Controversy, Free Advertising and a Christian Market
We of course know why movies like The Passion and The Divinci Code were financially successful. They stirred up controversy such as the crucifixion of Jesus being allegedly “anti-Semitic.” Well, according to Jesus and the Apostle Peter, the covenantal responsibility for the crucifixion lay at the feet of the first century Jews and it would be their generation that would witness the judgment and wrath of Christ’s return for crucifying Him and His first century prophets (through the means of the Roman armies – cf. Isaiah 2:19-21/Luke 23:30/Revelation 6:10-11, 15; Matthew 23:29-38 – Matthew 24:27-34; Matthew 26:63-64; Acts 2:14-40/Deuteronomy 32:5, 43; Acts 3:14-23). My rebuttal to the claims that this movie would be anti-Semitic are: 1) There is nothing “anti-Semitic” about making a movie that is both theologically and historically accurate. 2) However, it is the current beliefs of Dispensational Evangelicals that are “anti-Semitic” to Jews today, with their attempts to get Jews to return to Israel in order to speed up the Great Tribulation and the “Holy Battle” of Armageddon, in which allegedly many Jews will perish.
The Divinci Code was controversial because of its lack of integrity of history and Biblical theology. Christians were offended because the movie challenged the deity of Christ. Our movie does not challenge the deity of Christ, but upholds it, for only God came on the clouds of heaven in the OT and this is why the High Priest claimed Jesus was guilty of “blasphemy” (cf. Matthew 26:63-65). Jewish debaters and Islamic debaters along with liberal theologians, have sought to discredit the claims of Christ and the integrity of the NT by claiming Jesus couldn’t have been God because he did not return in the lifetime and generation of the first century as he claimed he would. Therefore, he was just a fallible man with some good moral teachings. The NT and historical record does not support this conclusion. Our movie will educate Christians not only on where and when the New Jerusalem is (“within”), but it will also give them another apologetic for the deity of Christ. The Christian market is very large and we want to see Biblically based movies that are high quality and uphold the teachings of the Bible. This movie will tap into that market along with the traditional Hollywood movie goers. Over time, this movie will be the most financially successful and will stand the test of time reaching a worldwide audience.
The Characters and Actors
The Main Characters: A Christian gladiator, the Apostle John, Nero, Titus, Vespasian, Josephus, John Levi, Ananus (the High Priest).
This is a fictitious and symbolic character that is simply announced to the blood thirsty gladiator arenas as “Christian” (cf. Pilgrim’s Progress). He is a Roman soldier who marries a Jewish woman in Jerusalem. He is taken from his family to fight in the arenas. In the end he is re-united to his family just before the Romans surround Jerusalem.
Many Christians were martyred between the years of A.D. 62-66 at the hands of the Jews and by the Romans in the arenas. However, it should be noted that Christianity does not translate into pacifist theology. When Jesus said to “turn the other cheek” when struck and insulted in Matthew 5:39, the Greek word here for strike is rhapizo and simply means to be slapped with the palm – it is not a punch. Christians are expected to fight in order to defend themselves and their families (cf. Luke 22:36). Christ’s death and many martyred Christians did not always involve the time to pick up the sword because it was God’s plan that through their blood His judgment would come upon Jerusalem (ex. John 18:10-11; Matthew 23:29-38).
The true victory and how the early church “turned the [Roman] world upside down,” were through the sword of the Spirit or the preaching of the gospel. This was accompanied with the miraculous aid of the Holy Spirit performing miracles (cf. the book of Acts). Since the miraculous gifts were present for the church until Christ returned in A.D. 70 to bring an end to the old-covenant age (cf. Acts 2:16-20; 1 Corinthians 13:8-12; Mark 16:16-18/Matthew 28:18-20); and apart of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the OT entailed a supernatural strength and ability to fight and slay larger and numerous opponents along with wild beasts (ex. Sampson and King David) – there will be a Christian gladiator who is put into the Roman areas who conquers man and beast. He is the exception to the rule. God has put His Spirit upon him uniquely to send a message to the Jewish and Roman “beasts” that are responsible for killing so many of the Christians. This brings another element of action and special affects to the movie.
Since the political leaders of Rome have a fascination for the miraculous (cf. Luke 9:7-9) and blood in the arenas, “Christian’s” witness in this environment plays a key role. At first the Roman Empire throws their best and strongest warriors at him. Some are even indwelt and empowered with supernatural strength through demonic activity (cf. Luke 8:29-30). They hurl insults at him and try and bring doubt and despair to his soul in the midst of battle (cf. the character “Giant Despair” in Pilgrims Progress).
After the end of each battle Christian briefly preaches and witnesses to the Roman blood thirsty crowds. He reiterates Jesus’ declaration that judgment is coming upon Jerusalem and that Rome will be an instrument to this because Jerusalem had killed His Son and the prophets He has sent to them. He states that just as Rome is using him for entertainment, God will use Rome to accomplish His means as an instrument of judgment against Jerusalem. And just as he is a prisoner to Rome, he is a sign that they are in actuality the real slaves - to their sin (cf. John 8:32-36) and that faith in Christ is what brings victory over the world. He exclaims God alone is the one in control (cf. Daniel 4:34-35) and not Nero or the Roman gods. He also predicts that the Roman Jewish war will severely weaken Rome (which historically is accurate) which will eventually lead to its downfall. Everyone knows that Christian has the power to escape, but God had told him in a dream that this was his calling and witness to Rome.
Christian prays consistently to know from God if He will ever let him go so that he can be reunited to his family back in Jerusalem, but God remains silent.
Because no man can defeat Christian, Rome eventually sends wild beasts filled with demonic powers (ex. Luke 8:30-33) to destroy him. He and a demonically filled villain are thrown in the area together with these wild beasts for one grand finale. Christian had been witnessing to this man for many years in prison and does so one last time in the arena. In the midst of battle this villain bows before the Lordship of Jesus. As wild beast is about to kill him Christian dies saving his life (cf. 1 John 3:16).
A day before, a Christian is told in a dream that this fate will befall Christian and is told where his body will be (ex. Acts 9:10-19). He is told to lay his hands on him and God will raise him from the dead. Christian now journeys to Jerusalem where he is united to His family just in time to witness the Roman armies surrounding Jerusalem. He exhorts the Christians to flee to Pella for safety as Jesus had warned them (cf. Matthew 24:16-18).
There will be breaks from Christian’s role from time to time as the other characters are introduced leading up to the war. They play major roles in the second half of the movie:
Plays a major role. In Revelation Nero is most likely the 6th King or the one that John says “now is” in Revelation 17:10. Tradition tells us that he was responsible for killing the Apostle Paul and blaming the Christians for the fires in Rome. The land beast in Revelation that persecutes the Church is the apostate Jews and the sea beast is the Roman Empire which joined in this persecution. Nero’s wife was Jewish and since there were Jews sent from Jerusalem to sentence Paul to death, they could have planted a bug in Nero’s ear to blame the Christians for the fires in Rome.
The Apostle John
The Apostle John wrote of the fact that Jesus’ kingdom was in the spiritual realm and so a “flash back” of (cf. John 3-6; 18:36) should be made. Both the internal evidence of Revelation and Church tradition validates that the book of Revelation was written prior to A.D. 70 and so a segment depicting John being banished to the Island of Patmos by Rome and beginning to write Revelation in the early or mid A.D. 60’s should probably be depicted.
These men play major roles in the war along with various leaders of the three Jewish factions and the struggle that took place within Jerusalem for 3 ½ years for control of the city and temple such as:
John Levi of Gischala
One of the leaders of the Jewish revolt against Rome whom some considered a possible candidate for the “Man of Sin” in Thessalonians along with Nero.
Ananus (the High Priest)
Various Zealots and Idumean warriors
Is a Jewish defector and historian for the Roman Army who documented and witnessed this war for us. He documents the sightings of angelic beings in the clouds during the war. This is another element of action and special affects in the movie.
The Actors: I believe the following actors serve as a good foundation – Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, Liam Neeson and Randy Couture for starters.
Objection: “How are we going to have a budget to pay these kind of actors?” Usually, when Hollywood sees a bigger picture and cause at work, they are able to somewhat humble themselves and arise to meet the challenge. Peace in the Middle East for Evangelical, Jewish and Islamic eschatology is probably the greatest cause our generation faces today. Also the exposing of the current day Hal Lindsey John Hagee “prophecy experts” agenda through giving a Biblical portrayal of the Second Coming is also very important in order to validate the credibility of the gospel which will begin making its way into Iraq and Israel over the next 10-30 years. Also keep in mind that if written and produced well, this movie should generate the kind of money to pay these men many times over. It is also “redemption” time for some of these actors. Let me explain.
Mel Gibson – in The Passion cut out the line of Jesus in (Luke 23:26-31) for fear of offending modern Jews. He also did not quote Jesus’ words of Him being the “I am” and the Roman soldiers falling back in John 18:5-6 (cf. John 8:58/Exodus 3:14). This is an opportunity for Mr. Gibson to redeem himself and correct some of what I believe to be some bad theology on his part springing from the fear of men. This movie is a strong declaration of the deity of Christ and can serve as a fitting sequel to The Passion. Therefore, Gibson should consider it an “honor” to be apart of it.
I enjoyed Gibson’s movies Brave Heart and Conspiracy Theory. Everyone is interested in investigating controversial conspiracy theories. No one likes to find out that what they had been taught all there life is false. Christians and non-Christians will be drawn to the controversy of this movie and will delve into a study of Bible prophecy to see if they have been incorrectly educated by the church concerning the second coming. Have these prophetic events been fulfilled during the Roman Jewish War in A.D. 66-70 or not?
Tom Hanks – It will also be redemption time for Mr. Tom Hank’s character in The Divinci Code. His character didn’t know if Jesus was God and divine or not. In this movie of NT and historical accuracy, it will not leave the audiences or Tom Hank’s character (or Tom in real life?) guessing.
Liam Neeson – enjoys giving documentaries of the Christians during this time frame (ex – The History Channel) and in the past he caught on to your vision of Jerusalem being in the heart and mind in The Kingdom of Heaven. So he is also a good candidate.
Randy Couture – I realize Randy might be an odd pick here in the midst of these seasoned actors. But let me briefly explain. I participate in mixed martial arts training and have followed Randy’s success in the early days of the UFC up until now. The UFC and the world of mixed martial arts continue to be a trend that is exploding in the U.S. and around the world. Randy’s success should be attributed to the natural gifts God has given him and the humble spirit in which he conducts himself as champion. God resists the proud (ex – Tito Ortiz) and gives grace and opens doors to the humble. He is recognized as a modern day real life “gladiator.” He has played in the Scorpion King II and Red Belt. I believe this is a role for Randy and he will take the acting challenge seriously. It is my feeling that he would consider it an honor to act along side these men and they would enjoy training Randy in their trades as accomplished actors. Randy should also participate in helping with the fight scenes (ex. Roman wrestling submissions / realistic fight scenes). I’m not sure Randy is at the level of taking the role of the Christian gladiator role, but he could play the villain who ends of bowing in submission to Christ.
For this movie I am suggesting that the writers, producers, and the actors are required to read: The NT, Josephus, Pilgrims Progress, and various preterist articles and books.
When someone first comes to the Preterist view of Bible prophecy he has a strong desire to do 2 things: 1) write a book and 2) see Hollywood produce a movie depicting the second coming of Jesus during the years of AD 66-70. I have finished writing my first book which has been co-authored by David Green and Ed Hassertt entitled, HOUSE DIVIDED: BRIDGING THE GAP IN REFORMED ESCHATOLOGY. This book will be published within a few months from now. From the movie side, although this has been kicking around in my head for well over 15 years, I understand John Noe has written a manuscript and sent it to Hollywood. But like I said, I have had this idea for a movie many years ago (not with these exact actors in mind) before learning of Noe’s manuscript. Over the years after seeing Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven, my desires for this project became all the stronger. My article critiquing Dispensational Zionism and a Conservative Peace Proposal For the Middle East on my web site, pretty much pushed me over into writing you. I am not sure if a idea for a movie of an historical event can be copyrighted, but I want to assure you and Mr. Noe that what I have outlined above came from my own meditations long before knowing of Noe submitting a manuscript.
Also, I have one small request. I am a single Father raising three children at home pretty much by my self on a waiter’s income. I have been repeatedly told weekly by the thousands of customers I work with over 10 years now, that I look like Liam Neeson. I have joked with my customers telling them that I will give them an autograph later or that, “you know I need to figure out how to make some money off of that someday.” But the facts are, that I am very athletic in good shape and a quick student. If I could play some extremely small role in the movie (perhaps related to Liam), or serve on or head up a theological board for the movie – I would greatly appreciate it. I’m not looking to become a millionaire, I just want to challenge and push myself and make enough money that I can continue raising my children and write.
Thank you so much for your time and please circulate this letter to the above actors to see if they see the overall goal of defending the deity of Christ, achieving a real peace in the Middle East, exposing the false views of Evangelical Dispensational Zionism and their influence upon our politicians all the while developing a high quality movie that will stand the test of time and will gross more money worldwide than any other.